Daily celebrity gossip pamphlet The Sun has published a highly dubious story about a pub landlord in Barnsley who claims he was told by council officials to remove his Union Jack jacket in case it offended someone.
Jason Mawer (pictured above) was bought the jacket, which is in the style of those worn by one of his favourite bands The Who, for his 40th birthday by his girlfriend. But he says he was told to take it off twice in public by unidentified people he refers to as ‘council enforcement officers‘.
Despite there being no evidence of who these people might be other than Mr Mawer’s hunch that they were enforcement officers, and no attempts whatsoever to actually make him remove the coat, The Sun ran the story with the headline JOBSWORTHS BAN WHO FAN’S ‘OFFENSIVE’ UNION JACK JACKET.
The paper mentions that Barnsley Council have no record of this incident occurring, although this is put in the last line of the article.
Mr Mawer seems to have the impression that these two mysterious people were council employees on account of one of them wearing a hi-viz jacket, despite no ID being shown at any point. On both occasions he says he was asked to remove the jacket in case it offended somebody. On both occasions he refused and no action was taken.
Mr Mawer mentions in the article that he is proudly patriotic and that his pub is decorated with St George flags, which is perfectly acceptable. What is slightly more concerning is that one of the groups he is linked to on his Facebook profile is Knights Templar International, a religious offshoot of the far-right group Britain First.
So a pub landlord with some questionable nationalist tendencies contacts Britain’s biggest selling daily newspaper with a flimsy story about being asked to take his jacket off. Not only does it get printed but the headline exaggerates the request into a ‘ban‘.
As pathetic as it all sounds, it’s a story that fits the right-wing tabloid narrative – decent law-abiding Brits being told they can’t do something British (usually related to a flag or Christmas) by some interfering PC busy-body (usually related to the EU, left-wingers or Muslims) – and appears with depressing regularity, despite seldom having any basis in fact.
But these papers know that if you repeat this misinformation and outright lies enough times, people will come to accept it as the truth. So you end up with thousands of Sun, Mail and Express readers who genuinely believe that you can’t so much as say you like anything British without the Big Brother state coming down on you like a ton of bricks.
Original Sun article available here.
Tabloid Corrections Facebook page: here.